Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009 | 2:13 a.m.
Ryan Greene, Rob Miech and Ron Kantowski reflect on their experiences on Saturday night at The Pit, where UNLV fell to New Mexico in overtime, 73-69. The guys talk about the infamous 'ramp,' break down the effect of René Rougeau's technical foul and whether the Rebels' season now again comes down to three games in March.
Beyond the Sun
- Mercury News: Lobos beat Rebels in overtime
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Let me start by saying that I love René Rougeau's work ethic. I love the way he gets the most out of his ability, how he leaves it all on the court, how he scores 12 points and pulls down 13 rebounds in 34 minutes in a hostile environment such as University Arena -- a k a The Pit -- which is what he did tonight.
But that fact is, with 4:28 remaining in a pressure cooker of a college basketball game demanding steel nerves and a cool head, his went hot. And it may have cost the Rebels another hard-earned victory in a place that rarely yields them.
Rougeau was whistled for his fourth personal as he and New Mexico's Tony Danridge battled for a rebound. Then he started ... well, to use UNLV coach Lon Kruger's word, "reacting." Referee Mike Scyphers hesitated every so slightly as if to say, "Young man, that's enough."
Then Scyphers reacted, too. He called a technical foul on Rougeau. The Lobos made all four free throws to turn a 53-52 deficit into a 56-53 advantage. The crowd of 17,407 went crazy. Worse, it was Rougeau's fifth foul.
True, the Rebels were able to bounce back and had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation and again in overtime. True, you can take just about any close game and find a play or two that in retrospect, might have changed the outcome.
Maybe that wasn't the play that beat the Rebels. But it was probably in the top two. I'd put it right behind Danridge's layup with 5.5 seconds remaining in overtime that proved to be the winning basket in New Mexico's pulsating 73-69 victory.
''Obviously that's going to affect the scoreboard and then, the fact that René's out," Kruger said after the Rebels dropped their second consecutive overtime decision to fall to 17-6 overall and 5-4 in the Mountain West.
Asked if he said something to Rougeau or planned to, Kruger said "We probably will."
He probably should.
"Definitely put the blame on me, for sure," Rougeau said. "Gotta play a lot smarter than that. We probably could have won that game if I don't get that technical foul."
Yup. Probably could have won. Probably should have won. Most definitely didn't win.
"I didn't say anything foul to him," Rougeau said. "Basically, you've just got to be smart and walk away from that, for sure."
After the overtime loss to San Diego State at home on Tuesday, Rougeau said it would be hard for him to sleep. It can be assumed, then, that he won't need a wake-up call tomorrow morning.
Why does irony always have to be so cruel? Until then, Rougeau had played great. OK, maybe he couldn't stop Danridge when he had his chance in the second half. Nobody could. Danridge was like one of those hot air balloons that are so popular around here. Once he got untethered, it was up, up and away.
In the first half, the muscular Danridge took just one shot. He made it. In the second half, he took 12 shots. He made nine. He finished with 26 points and nine rebounds.
Maybe if Rougeau doesn't get teed off and T'd up, Danridge scores a few more points and pulls down a couple of more rebounds because it appeared he was willing to do whatever it took for the Lobos (15-9, 6-3) to win this one.
Remember that episode in "Seinfeld" where Kramer took the wheel of a city bus, warded off gunmen, delivered a severed toe to the hospital and, much to Jerry's amazement, continued to make all the stops? Well, that was Danridge against the Rebels in the second half. He continued to make all the stops. He was fantastic.
So, too, was the atmosphere. USA Today last year ranked The Pit as the third-best place to watch a college basketball game, behind only Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse and Fordham's Rose Hill Gym. It didn't disappoint tonight. For a big hole in the ground, the place really rocks.
But the visitors played just as well as the home team. Other than Danridge's wrecking ball, nothing in the box score really jumps out at you.
New Mexico shot 42 percent from the field while the Rebels shot 40 percent. Free throws were pretty even, turnovers were exactly even and while the Lobos enjoyed a slight rebounding edge, the Rebels shot 3-pointers better.
That's why the game wasn't decided until there were 4.4 seconds remaining in overtime when the Rebels' Tre'Von Willis stepped on the sideline after Danridge hit the game-winning basket.
That's why you can't help but think that had Rougeau kept his cool, it might have ended differently.
As a senior and one of the Rebels' leaders. Rougeau should know better. He has been watching Mountain West officials call basketball games for four years.
He knows how God-awful they can be.
Phantom fouls, ticky-tack fouls, technical fouls. Fouls that shouldn't be called that are, fouls that should never be ignored that go undetected.
Jumping up and down and complaining about it isn't going to change it.